Italian chairs of the early Baroque period were often sparsely decorated, relying on turned wood elements and velvet upholstery to enhance their beauty. As the century progressed, many chairmakers began to endorse the use of gilded wood and leather upholstery. Our pair of 17th century walnut armchairs with tooled and gilt leather are a great example of Italian craftsmanship of the mid-to-late 1600’s.
The straight arms are still minimally adorned, featuring rounded heads above turned stumps with rectangular joints. Both front legs have been carved in the same manner, with a small turned section in between two rectangular blocks on top of onion feet. The back legs are rectangular with block feet and they are connected by a rectangular stretcher. Each of the side connectors are turned, as are the two front connectors.
Each of the chairs has two gilded backpost finials in the shape of curled leaves. The chairbacks are upholstered in leather and affixed with numerous iron nailheads. The leather has been tooled (sometimes called “worked”) and gilded, with a rectangular border of rosettes and rinceaux flowers. The inner corners of the border are festooned with geometric shapes on top of a textured background. The center of the chairback is embellished with scrolls and paisley motifs dotted with more textured background. Each seat is covered in leather and nailheads, with the bottom apron featuring more rinceaux flowers.
Our pair of 17th century tooled and gilt leather chairs can be used in many rooms of the house, including an entry hall, living room, or gentlemen’s study. Pair them with footstools or cushions and they will be comfortable armchairs or side chairs.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with losses to leather and old repairs to at least one foot. Traces of old wood worm. Light separations, chapped leather, and faded tooled elements, with one chair more worn than the other. One chair has been professionally restored. Minor joint looseness
H - 49 1/2, seat H - 20 1/2, W - 25, seat W - 20, D - 26
Pair of 17th Century Tooled and Gilt Leather and Walnut Armchairs from Italy
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